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10 Unsolved Murders With Strange Links To The Occult

by Robert Grimminck
fact checked by Jamie Frater

In the 1980s, Americans began fearing cults and Satanists, and the fear was largely unfounded. In hindsight, most of it stemmed from TV shows exploiting audience insecurities for ratings. However, the following cases really do have strange links to mysticism. Were occult groups responsible for these deaths? Or was the panic overblown?

10Rachael Runyan


The kidnapping and murder of Rachael Runyan is one of the reasons that parents have to tell children not to take candy from strangers. On August 26, 1982, Rachael was playing with her 10-year-old brother in a school playground in Sunset, Utah. A black, mustached man between 25 and 35 was hanging around the park for about 15 minutes, talking to other children before approaching Rachael. He offered her candy and gum, and she followed him to his car. Her naked body was found 24 days later in a stream.

It was a tragedy, and the police were stuck for leads. Early on, they dismissed the idea that her murder was occult in nature, but police later spoke on Unsolved Murders, reconsidering the theory. Twice, when Rachael’s father visited her grave, an unexplained black rose lay on the stone. Then, two and a half years after the murder, the following message appeared on a stall door in a 24-hour Laundromat: “I’m still at large . . . I killed the little Runyan girl! Remember Beware!!!!” Below it was an inverted cross with three number sixes, one at each arm and the head of the cross. Psychologists associated with the case said the real killer quite possibly wrote it.

Throughout the years, there have been many suspects, but no arrests have been made.

9Leroy Carter Jr.

Leroy Carter Jr. was sleeping in the bushes of Golden Gate Park when he was attacked and decapitated. His body was found on February 8, 1981, and he had only been dead for about 24 hours. The other clue left behind was a headless chicken, part of which was stuffed into Leroy’s body. Leroy’s head was missing.

The San Francisco Police brought in an officer who specialized in the occult. According to her, the murder was likely part of a dark ritual involving Palo Mayombe, a black magic offshoot of the Afro-Caribbean religion Santeria. The ritual made a brew from the victim’s brains and perhaps the ears and the nose. She predicted that the head would be returned after 42 days, once the ritual was complete.

Right on schedule, 42 days after the murder, the head was returned. However, despite having been called in, the occult detective was not taken seriously, and no one was arrested for the murder.

8Baby Doe

On March 14, 1986, the body of an hours-old infant boy was found near the banks of Lake Mohegan in Fairfield, Connecticut. He had been strangled, his jaw was broken, and his face had been mutilated. He was wrapped in white blankets. The body wasn’t hidden. It was just left out in the open.

When police arrived, they found coins, pieces of fruit, and other objects lying around the baby’s body. These objects seemed to indicate that the baby was part of a ritual involving Palo Mayombe.

In 2012, 26 years after the body of the baby was found, police said they had new leads, including DNA evidence. However, the leads have yet to produce a suspect or help identify the baby.

7Howard Green And Carol Marron

On December 16, 1979, the bodies of 53-year-old Howard Green and 33-year-old Carol Marron were found on the shoulder of Route 80 in West Patterson, New Jersey. Both had been beaten on the left side of their face and then stabbed in the right eye. In each of the victims’ hands lay a clump of hair. Their bodies had been completely drained of blood, most likely with a veterinarian’s syringe.

The police searched the couple’s Brooklyn apartment and found occult paraphernalia. Journalist Murray Terry received a letter from an anonymous friend of Carol Marron, who said that Green had been looking into Ordo Templi Orientis, a religion started by famed occultist Aleister Crowley. The detective on the case was sure that the murders were occult in nature and that more than one person had committed them.

No arrests have ever been made in the case. One person of interest was a former neighbor of Green and Marron who’d moved away about a year before the murders. He was known to cut the heads off mice and drain them of blood. The man was last seen in Oklahoma.

6Patrick Erhabor

On September 21, 2001, the torso of a young boy floated in the Thames River near the Tower Bridge. It had been in the water for about 10 days before it was found. London Police called the boy “Adam.”

A medical examination of the torso showed that the body had been dissected as though by a professional butcher of animals. The skin had been cut, and then a single chop had severed each limb. It was theorized that Adam was part of a human sacrifice to one of the 400 gods of the Nigerian Yoruba people.

All evidence pointed to ritual murder. The boy, who was traced to the Benin City area of Nigeria through forensic testing, was likely brought into the country for the murder. His stomach contents indicated that he had eaten German food before his death.

A year later, suspicion fell on a human smuggler named Kingsley Ojo. The police searched Ojo’s apartment in 2002 and found a bag with a mixture of bones, sand, and gold flecks—a mixture also found in Adam’s stomach. The apartment contained a videotape labeled “rituals,” showing the ritual dismemberment of a human victim. Besides those clues, police couldn’t find a connection between Adam and Ojo. Ojo was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for human smuggling before being deported to Nigeria.

In 2013, the boy was finally identified as Patrick Erhabor by former caretaker Joyce Osagiede. Osagiede had taken care of Erhabor in Germany before he was trafficked into the United Kingdom by Ojo.

The person or persons behind the ritual dismemberment of the young boy are still unknown. It was believed that he died to bring about “good luck.”

5Charles Walton


Photo via Murder Casebook

Even at the age of 74, Charles Walton of Lower Quinton, England worked on local farms. People in the small village liked him, but there were rumors. People said that he had a way with animals, birds fed from his hand, and he could control wild dogs with his voice.

On Valentine’s Day, 1945, Walton was working with a pitchfork and a trouncing hook on Meon Hill, an area shrouded in supernatural lore. Stories tell of ghosts of kings riding pale horses there with packs of white dogs. Other times, mysterious black dogs are seen in the area. Meon Hill is where Charles Walton met his end. The hook cut his throat, and the pitchfork pinned him to the ground. On his chest, his murderer carved a cross.

One theory said that Walton was a witch. He had cast a spell on someone, and to break it, he had to die. Things got even stranger when police came across a book called Folklore, Old Customs and Superstitions in Shakespeareland. It told the story of a man named Charles Walton who’d died in 1865 after seeing a ghost. One rumor in the village is that the recently murdered Charles Walton was the same man who died in 1865.

No one was ever arrested, and the rumors of Walton have never been settled.

4Baby X

On the evening of November 17, 1989, a baby girl burned in a barrel off a rural road near a landfill outside Rupert, Idaho. Named “Baby X” by the police, the baby had been dismembered, disemboweled, and possibly skinned. The left hand was missing, as was the right arm. Also missing were most of the organs except for the lungs and part of the heart. The baby had been put in the bin and set on fire.

Rumors spread around the township that Baby X’s death was part of a satanic ritual, but self-described Satanists around Rupert denied involvement. The police also searched hospital records for a possible mother. The baby was only one or two weeks old, but no record could be found. If the baby was only a few weeks old, the birthday would have been around Halloween.

An interesting lead came from a nine-year-old boy identified by the police as “Timothy” living in Barstow, California. In August 1990, he said that he’d witnessed a human sacrifice in which a baby died, was put in a bin, and was set on fire. Timothy and his family had just moved to Barstow from Rupert, Idaho, and police were convinced that he’d witnessed the murder. However, Timothy was a troubled child, and his stories often conflicted.

Another possible theory is that the baby died of pneumonia, and someone burned the body to cover up the death. However, rumors persisted that Rupert was swarming with Satanists. The baby has never been identified, and no one knows exactly what happened to Baby X.

3The Jamison Family


Photo via Georgia Newsday

On October 8, 2009, the Jamison family—44-year-old Bobby Dale Jamison, 40-year-old Sheri Jamison, and 6-year-old Madyson Jamison—went missing. They were last seen alive when they were out looking at a property they planned to buy, just outside of Eufaula, Oklahoma. Nine days later, their pickup truck was found abandoned.

The vehicle contained all the Jamisons’ personal belongings, including their dog, which was incredibly malnourished. Their cell phones were inside, along with their wallets, IDs, and a bag with $32,000 cash. Their remains weren’t found until four years later, when two hunters found them in an isolated area. The bodies had decomposed too much to determine a cause of death.

Several theories tried to explain what had happened to the family of three. The first concerned the large amount of cash they’d had on them. It was suspected that they might have been involved with drugs. However, no other evidence pointed to that.

The second theory involved Bobby’s father, Bob Jamison. Bobby had sued his parents over property that he’d claimed he was owed after working at the family business. The Jamisons then had to get a protective order against Bob Jamison because he’d twice threatened to kill them. However, at the time of the disappearance, Bob was sick and was either in the hospital or at home resting.

That brings us to the third theory. Leading up to their disappearance, the Jamisons had been acting strange. They’d lost a bunch of weight. They spoke to their pastor, saying that their house was being haunted by ghosts. Two of the ghosts had names—Emily and Michael. Six-year-old Madyson allegedly talked to Emily’s sister, a ghost with wings.

After the family disappeared, investigators visited the Jamison property. Written on the wall of a container on their property, they found a message: “3 cats killed to date buy people in this area . . . Witches don’t like there black cat killed.” Police never figured out who wrote the message.

When Sherilyn’s mother was questioned, she blamed a cult for the murders. She wouldn’t say which cult, but it was one that worked in Southeast Oklahoma. She also denied that the family was involved with witchcraft.

To date, no one is sure what happened to the Jamisons. It is unclear if they were the victims of foul play or if they committed suicide.

2Evangelist Family Massacre

When Benito Evangelista came to America at the start of the 19th century, he Americanized his name to Benny Evangelist. Evangelist worked as a carpenter, but in his spare time, he explored the occult. He even started his own cult called the Union Federation of America. He wrote the Union’s bible called The Oldest History Of The World Discovered by Occult Science in Detroit Mich. He held services in his basement.

On July 3, 1929, a real estate agent let herself into the Evangelist home. In the basement, she found Benny’s headless corpse sitting in his chair behind his desk. Beside him, on the floor, was his head. She alerted the authorities, who searched the rest of the house. They found the body of his wife in the bed, also headless. Next, they found the bodies of the four Evangelist children, who ranged in age from 18 months to seven years old. They had all been hacked to death. The weapon was most likely a machete.

One interesting suspect in the case was a former friend of Benny’s, named Aurelius Angelino. They had worked together on the railroad in York, Pennsylvania, and the two friends shared the same hometown and an interest in the occult. In 1919, Angelino had taken an axe and tried to kill his own family. He managed to kill two of his children before he was stopped, arrested, and put in an insane asylum. He managed to escape twice but was brought back each time. In 1923, he escaped a third time, and he was never recaptured. Some have speculated that Angelino paid a visit to his old friend in Detroit.

1The Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders

The Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Killer, or the Sonoma County Serial Killer, got his start on February 4, 1972. Two 13-year-old girls, Yvonne Weber and Maureen Sterling, were hitchhiking around Santa Rosa, California. They disappeared and weren’t found until 10 months later. Their naked bodies had been dumped down an embankment along the highway.

Over the next two years, another five young women, ranging in age from 15 to 23, died hitchhiking in the area. All of them were found naked, dumped along an embankment or in the weeds with one earring missing. (The body of 20-year-old Janette Kamahele was never found, but she is presumed to be a victim of the serial killer.) Three of the bodies had decomposed too much, but it is believed that they were all sexually assaulted. Three were strangled, one was poisoned, one had her neck broken, and another was beaten to death.

A few ties to the occult caught the attention of the police. First, all the bodies were dumped on the east side of the road. Also, at one dump site, investigators found twigs arranged in two interlocking squares, which they said is the symbol for “carrier of the spirit” in witchcraft. Almost all victims were taken during the waning moon, the lunar stage after the Moon is full. Finally, the last victim was kidnapped at the beginning of the winter solstice.

There have been several suspects in the case. The Zodiac killer was active during that time, and some of the murders were originally attributed to him. However, none of the Zodiac’s victims were stripped of their clothes, and he never took credit for these murders. Another plausible suspect was Ted Bundy, who claimed to be killing during that time, but he wasn’t in the area during the murders.

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian crime-fiction writer. You can follow him on Facebook, on Twitter, or visit his website.

fact checked by Jamie Frater